By YANJIE WANG
Capital News Service
LANSING — More Michigan companies are exploring business opportunities in the fast-growing Chinese market.
The latest trade mission by Gov. Rick Snyder and business leaders from 21 companies sought export and investment opportunities for firms in the state.
Snyder went to Asia on a trade mission last year, stopping in China, Japan and South Korea. This trip focused solely on China to continue to build relationships and forge partnerships for new trade and business opportunities, said Sara Wurfel, press secretary for the governor’s office.
The 10-day trip was intended to expand the Chinese market for Michigan-made products and services, along with the opening of the Michigan Center China Office in Shanghai. The office aims at strengthening mutually beneficial opportunities in trade, tourism and culture exchange.
The population and geographic size of China, as well as an increasing number of in-state Chinese students, are incentives for Michigan to welcome potential customers to invest and create jobs in the state, Wurfel said.
According to the U.S.-China Business Council Washington office, China is the third-largest export market for Michigan, and Michigan shipped products worth $2.7 billion there in 2011, up 1,170 percent from 2000.
The state’s top five exports to China are transportation equipment, machinery, chemicals, primary metal manufacturing, and waste and scrap.
“China is an important and viable market for a wide range of products and services,” Snyder said.
Kathy Fagan, communication specialist for the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), said that there is a huge untapped market for Michigan companies in China.
“A global economy is good for Michigan companies to grow. We really need to look beyond our own border,” she said.
The MEDC signed two agreements to strengthen relationships in China during the trip. The first establishes a long-term strategic and industrial partnership between Guizhou province and Michigan. The other promotes automotive cooperation with the Shanghai Auto Museum.
The 21 companies that joined the trip have products ranging from recycling technology to automotive components. Their representatives met with prospective partners, distributors and buyers.
Among them is OG Technologies Inc., an Ann Arbor-based company that provides inspection products for steel and forging markets.
Terence Liddy, company chair, said China represents the world’s largest steel market, so that it cannot be ignored.
“Our expectations were to increase our exposure with the business and steel community,” he said. “For a small Midwest company, we have rather deep roots in China and would be willing to build relationships with Chinese investors.”
Another participant was B&D Cold Heading Inc., which manufactures fasteners in Taylor. Jason Doyle, account manager for the company, said that one goal for the trip was to expand its network and establish long-term global supply chain relationships with customers, vendors and service providers.
Another goal was to team up with Chinese manufacturers that can help manufacture its products.
Doyle said, “In order to increase exports, our customers require a whole package in which we may manufacture 75 percent of the products. So if we could find a way to source products in China, we could increase our exports.”
By YANJIE WANG